Sakurajima eruptions pass 400

Compiled From Kyodo, Staff Report

KAGOSHIMA — The volcano island Sakurajima has had about 400 explosive eruptions so far this year, the most in 24 years, a local observatory said Friday, warning that activity might pick up.

The minor explosive eruptions reached the 400 threshold Thursday night, according to the Kagoshima Observatory in Kagoshima Prefecture. One expert said the recent activity is similar to what happened just before a major eruption in 1946.

The 1946 eruption killed one person but caused major damage to local agricultural areas, the nearby city of Kagoshima said.

“It’s in the middle of a stage where activity is picking up and the frequency of eruptions is likely to grow next year and thereafter,” said Masato Iguchi, an associate professor at the Kyoto University Disaster Prevention Research Institute.

“It’s possible an eruption of similar scale to the (1946) event could happen within a few years,” Iguchi said.

In general, lava from an eruption would not pose great danger to residents because it’s sticky and its flow speed is “extremely slow,” said Tadaaki Sakurai, an official at the municipal government.

But if a pyroclastic flow follows a river or if big rocks hit residential areas, the damage could be serious, he said.